Come late May and early June, my mother’s boysenberry vine comes alive with fruit. Boysenberries look like blackberries, but are actually a cross between blackberries, loganberries, and raspberries. As such they fruit much earlier in the season than blackberries, and they are more delicate in touch and taste. As a vine to cultivate, they aren’t nearly as thorny as blackberries and neither are they as invasive of a plant. I used to grow blackberries in San Francisco and it was a constant struggle to keep them from taking over the yard. (Trivia fact: the hybrid boysenberries were popularized by Walter Knott of Knott’s Berry Farm.)
This berry pie recipe is easy to put together. The tricks are to let the whole berries macerate in sugar first, and to use instant tapioca as a thickener. You can use corn starch instead of the instant tapioca, but we found that it is harder to gauge the correct amount and tapioca has a nice consistency that works well with berries.
- 1 pie dough recipe for top and bottom crust
- 5 cups boysenberries (can substitute blackberries or marionberries), rinsed, picked clean, lightly patted dry (if you use frozen berries, first defrost them and then drain them of excess moisture)
- 1/2 cup to 3/4 cup sugar (depending on how sweet you want your pie)
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- Pinch nutmeg
- 3 Tbsp quick cooking instant tapioca (you can find it in the baking aisle of your supermarket)
- 1 egg, lightly beaten, for egg wash
1 Put berries, sugar, lemon juice, nutmeg, and quick tapioca in a large bowl. Gently fold so that the berries are all coated with some sugar. Let sit for 30 minutes.
2 Preheat oven to 400°F. Roll out one ball of pie dough on a lightly floured surface to 12-inch diameter. Line the bottom of a 9-inch pie pan with the dough. Chill in refrigerator while you roll out the bottom crust.
3 Roll out second ball of pie dough. If you plan to do a lattice top, as pictured, prepare the dough strips as described in How to Make a Lattice Top for a Pie Crust.
4 Scoop berry mixture into dough-lined pie dish. If you would like your pie to have a lattice top, weave strips of pie dough over the top of the fruit-filled pie dish. If you would like your pie to have a solid top, place the second rolled-out pie dough crust on top of the pie. Press ends of strips into the rim of the bottom crust. Trim the edges to 1/2-inch. Fold the edges back over themselves and crimp to seal. If you are using a solid top crust, score the top to create air vents.
Gently brush the top with beaten egg.
5 Place pie on middle rack of the oven, on a baking sheet to catch any juices that might bubble over. Bake at 400°F for 30 minutes. Place a sheet of aluminum foil over the pie to protect the edges and tops from getting burnt. Reduce the heat to 350°F and bake for an additional 30 minutes, until crust is browned and filling is bubbly.
Remove from oven and place on a wire rack. Cool completely before serving (or the filling will be runny).